Tuesday, April 26, 2016

3 Year-Old Eats Coffee Cake - Mother Shocked

I continue on a hunt - a hunt for the perfect almond coffee cake.  Surely you've been down this road with me before.  It's a path well traveled.  I'm narrowing the road to a path.... closing in on the perfect recipe.
This recipe?  While not what I was seeking, is something well worth trying, if you are on the same path.  My friend Marcia told me she had an almond coffee cake recipe that was awesome.  Since I feel I'm becoming a connoisseur of these things, I felt it was time to give it a try.  Marcia is a much better Dutch girl than me.  She makes banket (and likes it),  she keeps a clean car, and even goes to the local Dutch Fest.  She also has a great almond coffee cake recipe.  Get this - even Bronwyn ate a piece on a Sunday morning.  I know right?  Amazing. That never happens!
I will continue on the hunt and I think it's leading me in the direction of ground almonds.  Interesting right?  Maybe I need to get a part time job at the bakery and then I will know their secrets!

Almond Coffee Cake

Mix together:
½ lb. margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

Add:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
½ lb. almond paste, grated
1 tsp vanilla

Topping: (mix like pie crust, until crumbly)
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 stick margarine

Bake 375 degrees in greased and floured pan
10x15 (jelly roll) pan: 25-30 minutes
9x13 pan: about 40 minutes

When cool, drizzle with glaze.

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 T butter or margarine
2-3 T milk

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fresh Baked Amazingness with Awesome on top

Cheddar Potato Rolls seem like a simple enough recipe name.  They also sounded like they'd go great with the soup I was making.  My family does like their carbs.  The recipe started with a commentary about someone who wanted to get some stress out and that's when she liked to bake bread.  Ok sure!
This recipe is involved.  It had three rises!  Three!  I'd never seen such a thing.  Then there's the whole - cook a potato in the microwave bit and shred it on the grater.  What?!  Who does that?
All of this to say, good recipe - just a lot of work.  It's really interesting that you proof the yeast in sugar and flour.  Then beat that into the rest of your dough after it's doubled once.  Then let the dough rise again.... Then make the rolls.... Then let them rise again!  I chose to refrigerate them before the final rise and let them do that while I made the soup.... the puffed up great and actually came out very well.  So... if you don't find working with yeast dough stressful - this recipe is for you. :)  If you do?  Head to the store and get some bakery rolls... they won't be nearly as good - but you'll at least have some.

Cheddar Potato Rolls
1 cup warm water (110°F)
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 medium russet potato (7 to 8 ounces)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons melted butter
In a medium bowl, combine the water, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) of the flour and stir until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size with large bubbles on the surface, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prick the potato all over with a fork. Microwave until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then peel the potato and grate on the large holes of a box grater.
Combine the butter, sugar, salt and mustard powder in a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and grated potato until combined, then beat in the yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups cheddar until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour until the dough starts coming together in a soft, sticky ball. Shape into a loose ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, dusting with flour as needed, and arrange in the baking dish so they are slightly touching. MAKE AHEAD: At this point the shaped rolls can be covered and refrigerated overnight, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until puffy. If already at room temperature, let rise for about 30 minutes, or until puffy.
Spray a sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and loosely cover the rolls, oiled-side down. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Uncover, brush with the 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Continue baking, uncovered, until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 20 more minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
Another make-ahead option: Parbake, covered, for 30 minutes, then let cool and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature, brush with the butter and bake, uncovered, 40 minutes, sprinkling with 1/2 cup cheddar during the last 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Amish Noodles in Chicago Suburbs - were they lost?

Mothers are supposed to have intuition right?  The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.  Apparently I understood I was supposed to make soup.  Chicken Noodle Soup.  Andy laughed at me saying for sure it would need to be a weekend soup, no good chicken noodle soup is made in a short amount of time.  Mock me another day sir... This soup took maybe 2 hours, but that's because I made from scratch rolls too... bah... details.  Anyway... I mixed up the stock a bit, used 4 cups of our own chicken stock, 2 cups of our pork stock and 4 cups of chicken stock from the store.  Might as well get some depth of flavor.  The Noodles?  They were tricky.  I looked all over and ended up at my local grocery store and found Amish Essenhaus noodles!  Oh sure... you say... yep you found noodles.  I found noodles sold in a restaurant/inn that my mom, her sisters and mother went and stayed yearly at an Amish community in Indiana.  So to find the noodles in my Chicago Suburban grocery store was pretty exciting.  Andy even commented that the noodles are great because they don't turn into yuck in the left overs.  (Yuck is a technical term.)
So... about that intuition... I made soup on Sunday.  Sunday night?  Bronwyn gets a temp, Monday Andy gets a sore throat, Monday night?  Both have confirmed strep.  Yuck.  Chicken Noodle Soup for the comfy healing win!
Everyone is on mend and now, I have a new soup recipe in my pocket - just in case... heals what ails you!

Chicken Noodle Soup 
2-1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
1-1/4 teaspoons pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
10 cups chicken broth
4 celery ribs, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 medium carrots, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups uncooked kluski or other egg noodles (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken in batches, skin side down; cook 3-4 minutes or until dark golden brown. Remove chicken from pan; remove and discard skin. Discard drippings, reserving 2 tablespoons.
2.  Add onion to drippings; cook and stir over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to pan. Add celery, carrots, bay leaves and thyme. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes or until chicken is tender.
3.  Transfer chicken to a plate. Remove soup from heat. Add noodles; let stand, covered, 20-22 minutes or until noodles are tender.
4.  Meanwhile, when chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Shred meat into bite-size pieces. Return meat to stockpot. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning with salt and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove bay leaves. Yield: 10 servings (3-1/2 quarts).


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Crockpot for the win!


After an out of town crazy weekend that had so much prep and work, I'm not interested in cooking.  Freezer meals and our crockpot is my friend.  While I knew I wanted to do chicken of some sort - I didn't know what to do for chicken in the crockpot.  Andy rattled off a bunch of stuff we could just toss in the crockpot with the chicken, "onion soup mix, because no crockpot meal should be with out it." While I do agree that idea had merit, I wasn't feeling any of his ideas.
I found this BBQ Chicken Recipe and we both agreed it could be a winner.  Having just been to Nashville and had our fill of BBQ Pulled Pork, I wasn't sure how this would rate, it was awesome.  Our kids couldn't get enough of it!  We used Sweet Baby Rays for the BBQ Sauce and oh it was good.  I was also spoiled that I didn't actually put it together, Andy did that part.  I'm so thankful he's willing to help make meals and get dinner ready.  Sure makes things easier to manage.
Give this one a try - maybe even toss some coleslaw on top - we did and it was awesome.

The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays)
1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste
Directions
1. Season chicken breast lightly (a small pinch per breast)  with some sea salt and place in your crockpot.
2. In a mixing bowl combine BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined.
3. Pour over chicken, cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours.
4. Once time is up, you can serve the breast whole, or shred with 2 forks. If shredding, recover and let cook in sauce for about 10-15 more minutes to soak up all the flavor.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to make snow - indoors...

Still, I am still on the hunt for the perfect almond coffee cake.  Clearly I need to get a part time job at a bakery so I can steal their secrets and then share them with all my almond coffee cake loving friends.
This coffee cake was made on the hunt for that elusive coffee cake.  I made a giant mistake in the process of making this coffee cake.  I was rushing to get it done.  We'd had a great mostly relaxed Saturday, hadn't over committed or gone too crazy.  So why did I rush to make this coffee cake?  Andy had put chicken in the oven for dinner and I thought I'd quick whip up the recipe so it was ready to toss in the oven after dinner came out.  In my rushing, I had started to make the filling in the mixer, reached up to get a glass bowl from the cabinet and pulled down the stack of 2 dollar store glass bowls and 4 IKEA bowls down shattering the dollar store bowls - EVERYWHERE.  It snowed glass shards in my kitchen.  Directly into my mixing bowl and everywhere else.  So then the game was how to keep two kids and a dog away from all that... Ugh!  So thankful Andy was able to help me clean up that mess and play defense.  After the clean up we had dinner.  After dinner I tried again to make this recipe.  Took my time and did it right this time.  Sure came out looking beautiful!
The verdict?  Still not the recipe I'm looking for.  Andy very much enjoyed this recipe.  If you like banket, this filling is for you!  It's heavy on the almond paste and has almond slices inside!  A little too heavy for me.  But doesn't it look pretty?  Oh my yes.  Ha!  Back on the hunt.... I still have about 8 more package of almond paste in my freezer to try in my quest for the perfect almond coffee cake.

Buttery Almond Pastry Braid
Dough Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
Filling Ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
7 ounces almond paste, frozen until firm and then grated with hand grater
1 cup sliced almonds, divided
Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
sliced almonds for topping

Instructions
1.Make the filling: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Mix in the salt and almond extract. Beat in the egg until just combined. Stir in the almond paste flakes and about 1 cup of the slivered almonds.
2.Make the pastry braid: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 pulses). Add the milk and almond extract and blend until it’s just starting to come together into a loose dough.
3.Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just 4-5 strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.)
4.Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just a few strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.) Very lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it out to a 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread the butter mixture over the middle third of the dough.
5.Continue assembling the braid: (There are photos and a video below to help visualize this step!) Make diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center filling area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in an alternating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braid overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
6.Bake and glaze the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg wash mixture. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until the dough is really golden on top and the filling is set. After allowing the braid to cool for around 30 minutes, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. Drizzle over the top of the braid. Top with sliced almonds and serve!
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